plant based medicine gel capsules

Various Delivery Methods of Plant-Based Medicine

There are various ways to consume plant-based medicine. Each has its differences.  Those differences include how long it takes for the active ingredients to reach the bloodstream, the efficacy of the delivery method and the length of time the effects of the active ingredients of the medicine last.

All delivery methods are available only through prescription in Australia. Including inhalation via vaporisation of dried flower and ingestion via oils and capsules.


The first method of delivery of plant-based medicine is inhalation using a vaporiser. 

Plant-based medicine in its botanical form is formulated to be delivered via vaporisation. Vaporised plant-based medicine results in rapid absorption and high blood concentrations. The first effects occur within 90 seconds and reach a maximum after 15 to 30 minutes, before wearing off after two to four hours. 

Vaporising heats the plant-based medicine without burning it and releases the cannabinoid compounds in the form of a vapour, which is then inhaled. Only vaporisers registered on the TGA as therapeutic goods can be used. 

Prescription plant-based medicine may be delivered via vaporising if so advised by a doctor. 

As the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) website explicitly states in its patient guidance section:

“A variety of products are currently available…These include raw (botanical) plant medicine, which for medicinal purposes should be vaporised but not smoked.”

We have heard reports of some people smoking the botanical form of plant medicine.  Well-documented evidence shows that smoking, in general, is harmful, and contrary to the TGA’s advice.

Oral administration

Plant-based medicines are also available in the form of oils or liquid capsules.

Liquid or gel capsules

Capsules are more slowly absorbed into the bloodstream than vaporisation. Effects are generally delayed for 30-90 minutes. Absorption of oral plant-based medicines is reduced by metabolism in the stomach and liver making less of the medicine available. Doctors call this ’first pass metabolism’.

Peak effects can occur two to four hours after consumption. Effects can last eight hours and as long as 24 hours.


A final delivery method for plant based medicine products is via the use of oils, dropped in the cheek area of the mouth or under the tongue – which results in mucosal absorption.  Some oils may be taken under the tongue and then swallowed. 

Drops or oil taken in the cheek or under the tongue, may have a faster medicinal effect for some patients and less reduction in therapeutic effect. 

Prescription plant-based medicine may be delivered orally if so advised by a doctor.

Disclaimer: Heathershaw’s Compounding Pharmacy does not promote the use of plant-based medicines for all patients. Our pharmacists will refer you to an affiliated doctor or clinic who may further assess your clinical requirements. For medical advice, speak to your general practitioner. Plant-based medicines in Australia are accessed via the Special Access Scheme or Authorised Prescriber Scheme and are regulated by the TGA.

Opinions or facts expressed within the content have been sourced from various news sources. While every effort has been taken to source them accurately, the pharmacy, its owners, staff or other affiliates do not take any responsibility for errors in these sources. Patients should not rely on the facts or opinions in the content to manage their own health, and should seek the advice of an appropriate medical professional. Further, the opinions or facts in the content do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the pharmacy, its owners, staff or other affiliates. 

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